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The Merchant of Dreams (Night's Masque #2)

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  387 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Exiled from the court of Queen Elizabeth for accusing a powerful nobleman of treason, swordsman-turned-spy Mal Catlyn has been living in France with his young valet Coby Hendricks for the past year.

But Mal harbours a darker secret: he and his twin brother share a soul that once belonged to a skrayling, one of the mystical creatures from the New World.

When Mal’s dream about
ebook, 371 pages
Published December 18th 2012 by Angry Robot (first published January 1st 2012)
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I was disappointed with this sequel to the enjoyable The Alchemist of Souls. The world building and the Venice setting was good. Unfortunately the plot failed to live up to the setting. The characters, who were so likable in the first book, seemed to be competing to see who could win the prize of most unlikable character in the book! I was very disappointed by the actions of Mal, Sandy, and Kiiren over the course of the story.

I think it likely that my changing perception of the Skraylings is an
Aug 31, 2014 Desinka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second installment in the Night Masque series was as good as the first but sadly in suffered from the same lack of an exciting ending.

The story took us through England and France to Venice, where the intrigue and mystery were deliciously wound and unwound. Though there were no great shocks or surprises, the book was a very entertaining and fast read. Maybe I'm not in awe as some of the happenings seemed contrived and most of the problems that arose were resolved far too quickly, long before
Raina {The LUV'NV}
Impressed with the first installment of the series, I picked up The Merchant of Dreams with high hopes and was a bit disappointed. Though Anne Lyle captured Venice with stellar description and feeling, the plot and main relationship and character development fell to the wayside—for me, at least.

The Merchant of Dreams picks up a year after The Alchemist of Souls, with Mal and Coby following his dream of a skrayling shipwreck, only for them to discover a massacre of skraylings. They sail to Kiiren
Dec 29, 2012 Mieneke rated it it was amazing
The Merchant of Dreams is the second book of The Night's Masque. Lyle's debut The Alchemist of Souls is one of my top ten debuts of 2012, so I was very excited to be able to crack open or rather tap open my eARC of The Merchant of Dreams to return to her alternate Tudor England and see how the story would continue. In The Merchant of Dreams Lyle deepens her world, allows us to travel to foreign parts, and develops her characters further in unexpected but wonderful ways.

We rejoin Mal and Coby a
Dec 23, 2012 Abhinav rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can find the full review over at The Founding Fields:

Shadowhawk reviews the second entry in the Night’s Masque historical fantasy series by new author Anne Lyle.

“Full of vitality and some spectacular sequences, Merchant of Dreams is simply fantastic.“ ~The Founding Fields

When I reviewed Anne’s first novel in this series, Alchemist of Souls, I said at the end that it was a fantastic novel and that I hoped she would deliver on the sequel just as well as
Fran Jacobs
Feb 01, 2013 Fran Jacobs rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
First published on Radiant Attack - read as an ARC copy

The Merchant of Dreams is the second book in the Night's Masque series by Anne Lyle. While I didn't read the first novel, I though the premise sounded interesting. Set in Elizabethan times, a group of spies investigate a skrayling delegation to Venice. The skraylings are the native people of Vinland, who have a mysterious spiritual connection between the dream world and reality. Not quite human, they are continuously reincarnated on death. T
Milo (Bane of Kings)
“This may be one of the best historical fiction/fantasy novels of 2012. Venice, Pirates, Skraylings, politics and some epic action scenes in sixteenth century Europe make sure that The Merchant of Dreams is a worthy successor to The Alchemist of Souls.” ~The Founding Fields

When I read The Alchemist of Souls earlier this year, by Anne Lyle –I was thoroughly impressed, and was left wondering how she would top that jaw-dropping first instalment. Well, as it turns out, The Merchant of Dreams is not
Nov 29, 2012 Deniz rated it really liked it
Shelves: adore, fantasy
bouncing between 4 and 5 stars in fact...

Lye has to my delight managed to not only deliver on my hopes for this book but has exceeded them!
The world building is absolutely flawless just like in the first book, and the characters are even better.
There are many subtle nuances and depths that have been added to the characters we got to meet in the alchemist of souls. In fact while I love the world building I adore the characters she created. I really care for them and wanna know what will
Alek Cristea
May 27, 2014 Alek Cristea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Merchant of Dreams is the second book in Anne Lyle’s Night’s Masque series, continuing on the adventures of Mal, Coby, Ned, and Gabriel. The book picks up soon after where the other one ended: Mal is still working for Walshingham and Coby is by his side, posing as his manservant. Ned and Gabriel have joined them in the spymaster’s service, getting steadily more and more tangled up in the intrigues of court and the skraylings. They now also have to look after Sandy, Mal’s twin, as his skrayli ...more
Shane Cormier
May 17, 2013 Shane Cormier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AWESOME. IM GLAD TO SEE ITS OUT BECAUSE IM GOING BUY IT NEXT WEEKEND. CANT WAIT TO FINISH THIS STORY. ANd I see you are no longer writing anymore for now of this series. Well i sure hope it doesnt leave you hanging too much. Will definitely check out Prince of Lies as well. If its anywhere close to as good as this series , Im sure I will enjoy it as well. Would love to get an autographed copy of this one but ah well.
V.C. Linde
Sep 05, 2013 V.C. Linde rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-reads
As with the first book, this is absolutely excellent. Well paced and with brilliant levels of detail. Different setting but mostly the same core characters as book one. Cannot wait to read more!
Laura Lam
May 20, 2012 Laura Lam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites, 2012
I beta-read an early draft of this. Fans of the first will definitely not be disappointed! It's a rollicking good ride, and 16th century Venice comes alive in Anne's alternate historic world.
May 29, 2016 Jaye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this series!

We come back to the story some months after the events of The Alchemist of Souls. Mal Catlyn and his valet Coby are exiled to France, and checking out a suspected skrayling shipwreck in the Med. Circumstances take them back to England, then onward to the Republic of Venice, where an ancient skrayling Guiser is making mischief among the nobility. There's plenty of intrigue, swordplay and playful banter. The gender-bending of the first book is taken up a notch, but it works out
Val Ross
This story cleverly links fantasy with historical facts in a believable way. The characters are complex and well-drawn and, whilst there's hope for a happy ending, there's no guarantee of that; the dangers they face pose real risks, and this creates exciting tension.

This is the second book in a series, although it works as a stand-alone; the passages explaining what's gone on before give just enough information to enable the new reader to understand the plot, but I suspect that I would have enjo
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
I enjoyed the first book of this series, despite it's flaws, mostly because I liked the characters - even if they were sketched a bit thin. I was hoping that this second book would develop them a bit more but, instead, it's the character stuff - especially the relationship between Mal and Coby - which mostly knocked this down to a 2-star.

That's not the only issue. There's also the fact that it's kinda slow to get started, and there seems to be a lot going on, especially in the middle, that I'm n
Mar 21, 2014 Erica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been mulling over this review for a while now, and I’m still a bit stumped and unsure how to keep it from being really short.
Let’s get the basics out of the way: I liked it, though not quite as much as I liked the first book in this trilogy. It was well-written, it read smoothly and there was not a moment where I felt bored and thought ‘yeah yeah, just get on with it already’.
The plot is a bit convoluted. We learned in the first book (spoilers!) that the mysterious beings called skraylings
Leontii  Cristea
Oct 30, 2012 Leontii Cristea rated it it was amazing
The Merchant of Dreams, by Anne Lyle—Night’s Masque #2—is an example of pure storytelling. Rich and well-paced, the second instalment of the series builds on the foundation of The Alchemist of Souls and completely avoids “middle-book syndrome” by becoming a solid middle point for the series, setting a high bar and allowing only for things to get better.

Often, what makes a book is a mixture of two elements, perfectly and chemically arranged on a page as suits the author’s style and tastes. Charac
I felt a little let down with this sequel to The Alchemist of Souls. All the characters I liked were back but the story seemed to be lost in all the running around they did.

I never felt any character development from them, Mal was the hero that turned into a lech that can't keep his sword sheathed. Coby built a life for herself yet constrains herself by only going about as a man instead of playing both male and female roles in her spy life & then, oops, a plot hole opens up and she can sudde
Joanne Hall
Feb 05, 2013 Joanne Hall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heroic-fantasy
“The Alchemist of Souls” was one of my favourite reads last year, and “The Merchant of Dreams” is the not-very-long awaited follow-up, the middle volume of a trilogy due to end with “The Prince of Lies” in November this year.

Mal and Coby have fled to Mal’s estates in France, but Mal is haunted by dreams and visions from the fragment of skrayling soul trapped within him. The skraylings, creatures from the New World, can re-incarnate into different bodies. But the soul that has re-incarnated into
Dec 24, 2012 Anne rated it it was amazing
The Merchant of Dreams starts out with a scene that could have come from one of the best thriller movies - all haunting atmosphere and trepidation - and digs its hooks in deep. Set a year or two after the events of The Alchemist of Souls, this second book in the Night’s Masque series is a worthy successor to it. At over 500 pages, I still managed to finish the book roughly three days after I started it.

Court intrigue and battles abound as Mal Catlyn and his page - the cross-dressing (by necessit
Ben Babcock
I had little but praise for The Alchemist of Souls , the first adventure of Mal Catlyn and Coby Hendricks in an alternative Elizabethan England. Anne Lyle had a keen eye for characterization and an ability to weave a tight, dramatic story that held my attention and left me wanting more. So more’s the pity that The Merchant of Dreams was quite a different experience!

This sequel picks up a little while after the first book, with Mal and Coby living in France while the fallout from their actions i
Apr 07, 2013 Carole-Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
OK, not as demanding a read as The Alchemist of Souls; but I decided to rate and tag this one anyway. :) There were too many situations which didn't actually fit in with what was going on at the time; too much blind acceptance by most of the characters; and a fairly choppy storyline which hopped all over the place sometimes.

Still not sure what the author is hoping to achieve with this: still unsure of the Sandy/Erishen raisen d'etre and how/why it affects Mal; bringing older brother Charles int
Erica Wagner
Mar 09, 2013 Erica Wagner rated it it was amazing
I read the Alchemist of Souls around Christmastime, so I was glad I didn't have to wait long for the sequel. There were a few surprises with regards to the timing, as it didn't take up immediately after the first one left off, but it worked well for me. I'll try to do this without spoilers, so the review will be a bit more general.

The only real complaint I had about it was that the start was, perhaps, a bit slow. I was all right with this, because it added some details re characterization and wo
Apr 03, 2014 Jacey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I'm in the middle of writing at the moment, which generally means my own reading suffers as I can't comfortably read fiction when I'm writing different fiction, however a trip to London and back gave me eight hours as a pasenger in the car and I'm afraid I was antisocial enough to seize on the opportunity to read The Merchant of Dreams.

The second installment of Mal Catlyn's adventures, beginning about a year after the events in Alchemist of Souls. Mal finds a party of skraylings in the Mediterra
Feb 07, 2013 Al rated it really liked it

There has been a rift with the skraylings over the presence of renegade skraylings who have deliberately reincarnated in humans in England. Rumour has it that skrayling vessels have been spotted in the eastern Mediterranean in increasing numbers, fuelling suspicions of dealings with Venice. Mal is instructed to travel to Venice forthwith to find out if these suspicions are true and, if they are, to break up this new alliance by any means necessary...


"Whether you like action, magic, roma

Nov 06, 2012 Lori rated it really liked it
Pre-release/ARC review.

“You’re afraid of me, aren’t you?”

“No,” Ned replied, glancing around the kitchen in the hope of spotting a handy weapon. The carving knife was still on the table, and the fire irons out of reach on the hearth.

“Yes you are.”

“All right, yes, dammit.” Ned straightened up, putting as much distance between them as he could without actually retreating. “Now say what you have to say and be done with it.”

“Good. We understand one another. So understand this.” Sandy leant clos
Tammy Sparks
Jan 13, 2013 Tammy Sparks rated it really liked it
3 1/2 Stars. This beautifully written story, the second in the series, was ultimately very frustrating for me to read, mostly due to the fact that I did not read The Alchemist of Souls first. I did not realize this was a second book when I requested it from NetGalley, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have asked for it (and that is entirely my fault, I did not read the description carefully enough – lesson learned!). While it has vivid historical details and an abundance of atmosphere, it was hard f ...more
Oct 10, 2013 Alison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not going to repeat the Goodreads summary of this book.

Talk about betrayal.

I was looking forward to this second book of the trilogy, but now I'm not sure I like how some of the characters are developing. Mal makes some very dodgy decisions in this book and agrees to others that don't quite fit with what we know about his character. In particular, one betrayal and one decision are quite spectacular and his reasoning for both of these things didn't really work for me at all.

At least the betray
Norman Howe
May 22, 2015 Norman Howe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
When Mal Catlyn rescues a skrayling from a shipwreck"," he discovers a disturbing secret: The skraylings are attempting to form an alliance with Venice.And these skraylings are not the American natives of our world. In this world"," they are beings of powerful magic"," capable of transferring their souls to new bodies on their deaths. Mal knows this"," because he and his brother share one such soul!Set in an alternate Elizabethan Europe"," this is an exciting tale of adventure.
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Anne Lyle was born in what is popularly known as “Robin Hood Country”, and grew up fascinated by English history, folklore, and swashbuckling heroes. Unfortunately there was little demand in 1970s Nottinghamshire for diminutive swordswomen, so she studied sensible subjects like science and languages instead.

It appears, however, that although you can take the girl out of Sherwood Forest, you can’t
More about Anne Lyle...

Other Books in the Series

Night's Masque (3 books)
  • The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque, #1)
  • The Prince of Lies (Night's Masque, #3)

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